Disclaimer: I am not making this up. This actually happened on the 1st of January 2009 while we were still in Romania for the holidays.
D and I were sitting on the platform in the decrepit train station in his town. I was looking at the rusted train cars, the chipped asphalt, the broken bottles of champagne from last night’s parties, all of them sitting there under the gloomy skies and the gnawing cold of that January day. “This would make a nice photo” I said, and I wasn’t joking. D and I have always wanted to see what would come out of an urban landscape photo shoot. We haven’t seen a lot of “worthy” such sights in Montreal, but there’s plenty of them in Romania – the raw and the gritty of abandoned or unfinished buildings stare you in the face in almost every city you go to.
This being said, I got on the train and went home leaving D with this photo shoot idea lurking in his brain. So at around 8 at night, D and 2 of our friends, took their cameras and tripods and set off to the aforementioned train station to photograph the hell out of it.
The station was deserted, no trains coming or leaving, only an old freight train on a distant track.
So D et co. proceeded to the picture taking: the station, the tracks, the train, the train from another angle, the wheels of the train, the train posing as Brad Pitt.
Mind you, each of these photos were accompanied by these sounds our camera makes 5 sec before triggering the shutter: beeeeep—-beeep-beeep—-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep. And of course flash bursts which could be seen from the moon given how poorly lit that station was.
By now, dear readers you should see where I’m going with this: the police and the station chief came! Alarmed by the presence of these youngsters who had nothing better to do on the first day of 2009 than to photograph a filthy train station, the station chief, probably also irritated by the alcohol fumes from the party the day before still lingering in his brain, arrived at the scene.
And the questioning began: “What are you doing here?”, “Taking pictures of the station” came the answer. “THIS station? No, really, are you trying to steal the technology?”
Let me explain: the station chief could not by the life of him realize why anyone would want to photograph those unappealing trains, so the first thing that popped to his mind was that D and the gang were spies, trying to steal the manufacturing secret of a train which was probably built during the Cold War.
What followed was a trip to the chief’s office, an hour of witty dialogue in the lines of “This is a public place. Don’t you know you are not allowed to take pictures in a public place?” [WHAAAT?!] When the “spies” were asked to hand in their pictures, they took out the SD cards from their cameras, to which the answer was “No, not that, let me see the film!”. I’m surprised they weren’t arrested on the spot for withholding evidence!
It all ended well, they didn’t even get a fine, because apparently the law stating that taking pictures in a public space was an offence had been abrogated. It was however one of those moments I’m terribly sorry I missed. Come to think of it I would have probably been scared, but the way D told the story made it seem like I would have burst out laughing at the sheer idiocy and ridicule of the moment.
And now let me show you the pictures that were taken.
If you’re asking yourself “but I thought they had to hand in the SD cards and erase the photos! Why do these pictures still exist?”, well, you have underestimated D’s sneakiness. While on their way to the chief’s office, he furtively replaced the card with an empty one. And when he had to erase the photos, well, he “erased” the unexisting ones on this blank card. “Look, the card is empty” he told them! Doh!
D posted a comment which I’m going to include in the actual post because it belongs here and because I want everyone to read it.
Amongst others ridiculous affirmations, the train station chief threatened to boycott me to my primary school teachers that he knew so well. I must admit I was getting the chills at this time … NOT!
In all fairness, the policeman that interrogated us admitted that he was not in a position to confirm that we are really deleting the pictures from the camera as he was probably not a tech savvy. But he was cool enough to let us go even without even a warning after we had fiddled with gadgets (k$ photographic equipment) that made beeping sounds and blinked red lights on the rails and under the trains, way beyond the passenger platforms.
Like Alexandra said, I managed to unnoticeably swap the memory card in my camera, but V however, did not have the idea or a spare card to do so. Not to worry, we undeleted the pictures from his camera as well the next day.